AMTV, LOS ANGELES, CA, July 22 – Today, The County of Los Angeles Public Health reported 20 additional deaths and 8,091 new positive cases. Of the 20 new deaths reported today, one person was between the ages of 18-29, three people were between the ages of 30-49, six people were between the ages of 65-79, and eight people were aged 80 years or older. For information on the one death reported by the City of Long Beach and the one death reported by the City of Pasadena, visit longbeach.gov and pasadena.net. Of the 20 newly reported deaths, 16 had underlying health conditions. To date, the total number of deaths in L.A. County is 32,604.
Public Health has reported a total of 3,253,323 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County. Today’s positivity rate is 15.7%.
There are 1,247 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for more than 12,297,229 individuals, with 24% of people testing positive.
LA County remains in the CDC designated High Community Level this week with the rate of new COVID hospital admissions increasing to 11.4 admissions per 100,000 people. The 7-day case rate also increased this past week by 30%; at 481 cases per 100,000 people, this is higher than the case rate in February during the Omicron winter surge.
While some of those infected experience only mild illness, many do not, and we see this in the doubling of emergency department visits for COVID over the last two months. We also see this in staffing shortages at worksites, including at healthcare facilities. Outbreaks at workplaces are disruptive and expensive since there is cost associated with covering shifts and preventing further spread. Households with infected members also suffer disruptions: for some, this includes lost wages, difficulties isolating, and needing help caring for children.
High community transmission also leads to preventable, avoidable deaths, primarily among those most vulnerable. Nearly 4,500 people have already died from COVID this year. If we can slow down transmission, we have a chance at preventing some people from dying in the upcoming months.
It is also clear that many individuals infected with COVID have experienced long COVID, and with big increases in cases, there are likely to be more people reporting illness symptoms weeks after initial infection. The most common symptoms reported for Long COVID are fatigue and exercise intolerance, however breathing problems, brain fog, prolonged loss of taste and smell, and even sudden hair loss have occurred for some. The symptoms vary and may last or reappear over time.
High transmission has been fueled by increased circulation of BA.5, a sub-variant that is associated with high rates or reinfections. Given the results from a recent large study among veterans that identified increased risks to health created by repeat infections, slowing spread is likely to also help lower the risk of reinfections.
Being up-to-date on vaccinations offers the best chance of not experiencing the worst outcomes. Vaccines and boosters continue to significantly reduce the risk of severe disease and death from COVID, should residents become infected. If residents have underlying health conditions or are an older adult, they should be prepared to seek treatment right away if they become sick with COVID. There are free, lifesaving-medications available to treat residents should they become infected and sick.
At home, and in the community, there are several steps residents can take to lower risk, including getting tested if sick or recently exposed, and isolating away from others if they tested positive. When out and about, don’t wait for a masking requirement before masking indoors. If planning to attend a private event, residents should test themselves before going and stay home if they test positive. When hosting an event, it makes sense when transmission is this high to ask others to test before attending. Outside remains safer than inside for parties and events. If gatherings do move indoors, increasing ventilation and masking indoors when not actively eating or drinking is sensible, especially if anyone with vulnerable health is attending.
At workplaces, maximizing ventilation is primary as it reduces the amount of virus in the air, should an infected person be present. Workplaces must provide medical grade masks and/or respirators and may choose to require indoor masking. Workplaces that are experiencing outbreaks have additional reporting, masking, testing, and return to work required measures.
“I send my deepest sympathies and wishes of peace and comfort to the many families who have lost a loved one from COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “What we have learned over the course of the pandemic is that this is a dangerous virus. We benefit enormously for all the effective tools at hand, and they allow most of us to fully live our lives: we travel, we go to parties, we enjoy concerts, plays and sporting events, and we get together with those we love. However, when transmission is really high, we would be foolish to be complacent and not layer in additional protections that help those most vulnerable also fully live their lives. We are a wonderful county, with amazing people and have a long history of working together to protect each other.”